Our brothers and sisters, we want you to know what God's grace has accomplished in the churches in Macedonia. 2They have been severely tested by the troubles they went through; but their joy was so great that they were extremely generous in their giving, even though they are very poor. 3I can assure you that they gave as much as they could, and even more than they could. Of their own free will 4they begged us and pleaded for the privilege of having a part in helping God's people in Judea. 5It was more than we could have hoped for! First they gave themselves to the Lord; and then, by God's will they gave themselves to us as well. 6So we urged Titus, who began this work, to continue it and help you complete this special service of love. 7You are so rich in all you have: in faith, speech, and knowledge, in your eagerness to help and in your love for us.8.7 your love for us; some manuscripts have our love for you. And so we want you to be generous also in this service of love.
8I am not laying down any rules. But by showing how eager others are to help, I am trying to find out how real your own love is. 9You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ; rich as he was, he made himself poor for your sake, in order to make you rich by means of his poverty.
10My opinion is that it is better for you to finish now what you began last year. You were the first, not only to act, but also to be willing to act. 11On with it, then, and finish the job! Be as eager to finish it as you were to plan it, and do it with what you now have. 12If you are eager to give, God will accept your gift on the basis of what you have to give, not on what you haven't.
13-14I am not trying to relieve others by putting a burden on you; but since you have plenty at this time, it is only fair that you should help those who are in need. Then, when you are in need and they have plenty, they will help you. In this way both are treated equally. 15
As the scripture says, “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.”
16How we thank God for making Titus as eager as we are to help you! 17Not only did he welcome our request; he was so eager to help that of his own free will he decided to go to you. 18With him we are sending the brother who is highly respected in all the churches for his work in preaching the gospel. 19And besides that, he has been chosen and appointed by the churches to travel with us as we carry out this service of love for the sake of the Lord's glory, and in order to show that we want to help.
20We are taking care not to stir up any complaints about the way we handle this generous gift. 21
Our purpose is to do what is right, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of others.
22So we are sending our brother with them; we have tested him many times and found him always very eager to help. And now that he has so much confidence in you, he is all the more eager to help. 23As for Titus, he is my partner and works with me to help you; as for the other brothers who are going with him, they represent the churches and bring glory to Christ. 24Show your love to them, so that all the churches will be sure of it and know that we are right in boasting about you.
91There is really no need for me to write to you about the help being sent to God's people in Judea. 2I know that you are willing to help, and I have boasted of you to the people in Macedonia. “The brothers and sisters in Achaia,” I said, “have been ready to help since last year.” Your eagerness has stirred up most of them. 3Now I am sending these brothers and sisters, so that our boasting about you in this matter may not turn out to be empty words. But, just as I said, you will be ready with your help. 4However, if the people from Macedonia should come with me and find out that you are not ready, how ashamed we would be — not to speak of your shame — for feeling so sure of you! 5So I thought it was necessary to urge these brothers and sisters to go to you ahead of me and get ready in advance the gift you promised to make. Then it will be ready when I arrive, and it will show that you give because you want to, not because you have to.
6Remember that the person who sows few seeds will have a small crop; the one who sows many seeds will have a large crop. 7You should each give, then, as you have decided, not with regret or out of a sense of duty; for God loves the one who gives gladly. 8And God is able to give you more than you need, so that you will always have all you need for yourselves and more than enough for every good cause. 9
As the scripture says:
“He gives generously to the needy;
his kindness lasts for ever.”10
101I, Paul, make a personal appeal to you — I who am said to be meek and mild when I am with you, but harsh with you when I am away. By the gentleness and kindness of Christ 2I beg you not to force me to be harsh when I come; for I am sure I can deal harshly with those who say that we act from worldly motives. 3It is true that we live in the world, but we do not fight from worldly motives. 4The weapons we use in our fight are not the world's weapons but God's powerful weapons, which we use to destroy strongholds. We destroy false arguments; 5we pull down every proud obstacle that is raised against the knowledge of God; we take every thought captive and make it obey Christ. 6And after you have proved your complete loyalty, we will be ready to punish any act of disloyalty.
7You are looking at the outward appearance of things. Is there someone there who reckons himself or herself to belong to Christ? Well, let them think again about themselves, because we belong to Christ just as much as they do. 8For I am not ashamed, even if I have boasted somewhat too much about the authority that the Lord has given us — authority to build you up, not to tear you down. 9I do not want it to appear that I am trying to frighten you with my letters. 10Someone will say, “Paul's letters are severe and strong, but when he is with us in person, he is weak, and his words are nothing!” 11Such a person must understand that there is no difference between what we write in our letters when we are away and what we will do when we are there with you.
12Of course we would not dare to classify ourselves or compare ourselves with those who rate themselves so highly. How stupid they are! They make up their own standards to measure themselves by, and they judge themselves by their own standards! 13As for us, however, our boasting will not go beyond certain limits; it will stay within the limits of the work which God has set for us, and this includes our work among you. 14And since you are within those limits, we were not going beyond them when we came to you, bringing the Good News about Christ. 15So we do not boast about the work that others have done beyond the limits God set for us. Instead, we hope that your faith may grow and that we may be able to do a much greater work among you, always within the limits that God has set. 16Then we can preach the Good News in other countries beyond you and shall not have to boast about work already done in someone else's field.
But as the scripture says, “Whoever wants to boast must boast about what the Lord has done.” 18For it is people of whom the Lord thinks well who are really approved, not people who think well of themselves.